The growing support for ‘meanwhile use’ sites across the City London and other central locations is providing alternative income options both for landlords and developers.
Economic research firm Capital Economics is projecting property values to fall by 5-9% over the next two years if a no-deal Brexit becomes reality.
Data shows that the market has already slowed in anticipation of such a scenario, with landlords seeking new ways to cash in and ensure their properties continue to be occupied.
Equally, new developers who may be experiencing downtime as they wait on planning permission, for example, are actively pursuing fresh avenues that deliver income.
Creative events agency, Shout About, are looking to fulfil these needs, offering alternative revenues to landlords by activating ‘worthwhile use’ sites for events. They specialise in taking forgotten locations that may be waiting to be redeveloped or even demolished and giving them a new purpose – usually short term.
Most recently, Shout About engaged with Sun Street, a short-term premium raw site in the City of London between Old Street and Liverpool Street stations. Currently undergoing development, the site offers 30,000 sq ft of untapped event space, comprising six interlinking former townhouses over five floors.
Staying true to the agency’s ideology of finding unique venues for their list of corporate and consumer clients, Shout About has some fairly grandiose plans for the newly obtained property, which will be available for exclusive hire during the term of the project.
But using empty spaces like this isn’t new – not in London at least. Properties that could be used for temporary events, housing, workspaces, parks, community gardens and retail are generally known as ‘meanwhile use’ spaces.
While the property is empty and the landlord is looking to fill it, smaller companies and individuals can use the space at a cheaper price than market value. This method not only helps landlords maintain a steady stream of income, but also creates an option for those who can’t afford typical central London rent prices.
Simply put; leaving sites empty is costly, and in a city where land is at a premium, meanwhile use can improve the development process and offer affordable space for the next generation of entrepreneurs, artists and activists to emerge and experiment.
And while companies like Shout About are taking advantage of this, there is still plenty of room for more to be done. According to a Centre for London report, 24,400 commercial properties in London are currently empty, and 22,500 have been vacant for at least six months.
Moreover, 2,700 hectares of land – the equivalent of the London Borough of Lambeth – has planning permission
to develop, but construction has yet to start.
Creative solutions to leasing out commercial properties are only going to become more necessary as the market struggles to come to terms with Brexit uncertainty.